Bachelor of Common Law (LL.B), McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (First Class Honours), Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
English, French, German, Russian
I am the Chief of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Organized Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch (UNODC/OCB). I manage expectations as well as people; my branch includes over 80 staff and deals with all 193 Member States. UNODC/OCB deals with criminal activity that crosses borders, assisting Member States in implementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the three Protocols on migrant smuggling, human trafficking, and illicit firearms manufacturing and trafficking. We train countries to conduct forensic investigations or to establish financial intelligence units, whereby suspicious transactions are reported by banks. My responsibility is to ensure that UNODC/OCB delivers on its programs and mandates to Member States.
Crime persists and evolves. This is why the programs of the UNODC extend across the world. The United Nations addresses crime worldwide. For instance, we have a container control program which trains countries in conducting risk assessment using shipping documents and customs declarations forms. Often, we get reports of seizures from our port control units. An inspection can reveal drugs, illegal arms, and counterfeit goods. While the United Nations performs a crucial function, the needs of Member States remain very great, and our resources are limited. Complex forms of illegal activity such as cybercrime continue to emerge. These new forms require enforcement, equipment, and training. They also make our work vital.
My piece of advice to young people interested in working for the UN is to be persistent and strategic. When I made transitions in my career, there were always emerging world situations - both political and economic - which seemed to open up doors to new opportunities. As a student, I knew that I wanted to study law in an international capacity. I first travelled abroad in 1973 through a scholarship based on the Canada-USSR cultural exchange agreement to conduct post-graduate research in Leningrad. Over the years, I worked for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Bank, and in the private sector.
I came to the Organization later in my career. I tried for many years to enter the UN and was interviewed on a number of occasions but it wasn’t until December 2004, just when I had told myself that I was going to apply for the last time, that I got the job. I moved to New York from Halifax, Nova Scotia to join the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, which was established to monitor the implementation of Resolution 1373 (2001), the most comprehensive counter-terrorism resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in the aftermath of 9/11. Since then, my nine years with the organization has taken me to three different services and two different duty stations, giving me an enriched experience.
It is useful to remember that change may not necessarily be brought about by positive factors - this applies to world events as well as to one’s personal or professional life. There are peaks and valleys; you just have to persevere.